Grateful for a near miss

Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2018

In the wake of Hurricane Florence, it is humbling to think how lucky we were here along the Roanoke. Because we have tasted powerful storms in the past, many of our communities prepared like never before. The good news is, for the most part, we were spared.

After all the hits to our region over the past few years, it sure seems like it was our turn to catch a break. Of course, the fact that we were spared meant communities south of us were impacted this time – all that water and energy had to go somewhere. And, it has been heartbreaking to witness all the loss and devastation imparted to communities not far from us.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people and communities impacted. In some cases, volunteers from our communities are also with them. It was scary but even through such a difficult time we can find some bright spots.

With the global coverage of a weather event like Hurricane Flo, we received lots of encouragement from folks checking on us here along the Roanoke.

Among our earliest messages was an email from one of the guys from British Columbia that spent five nights on our platforms back in April. I was surprised that he was hearing the forecast for our part of the world. I was also touched that he took the time to check on us. I was reminded of what nice people travel here to experience our river region.

I also heard from some folks from Australia that had visited several years ago. They were concerned. They sent their hopes and prayers from half way around the world that we would not be greatly affected. As it turns out, we weren’t.

In the days and weeks since the storm, we continue to get inquiries both from visitors who have paddled and camped on the river and from colleagues all across North Carolina. It has been a good feeling to know so many people care about our communities.

As I reflect about recent effects I can’t help but be reminded about how connected we are to the river and the surrounding environment. I have thought about how our communities developed here because of the river – how it has provided food and work and transportation for hundreds of years.

The Roanoke River has shaped the people and the communities of our region.

I have thought about how in the worst of times, we rely on each other. Throughout our region we have helped our neighbors raise barns, get crops in, and, in times of need, we have shared our surplus. Banding together is part of who we are and how we have survived through the tough times – be it weather events or other forces beyond our control.

Some will remember that Roanoke River Partners, Inc. (RRP) was born out of a storm — the economic storm of the mid-nineties. Communities throughout our region were facing a bleak economic future. From then until now, RRP has cultivated partnerships to assist our region in the face of dynamic change. We are grateful to all the individual and organizational partners who contribute to this rural development.

We were lucky to have missed the full force of Florence but there will be other “storms.” They will come in many forms and we will endure them and come through them as we always have – together.

Carol Jones Shields is the Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners, Inc. You can contact her at (252) 798-3920 or You can learn more about Roanoke River Partners at